Real Estate Survival Guide: Buyer's Checklist

Refer to this 10-step checklist to get you through the homebuying process.

Related To:

Homeowners with Sold Sign

Homeowners with Sold Sign

1. Figure out how much house you can afford.

  • Calculate your monthly income and debt.
  • Check your credit report and FICO score.
  • Use FrontDoor's mortgage calculator.
  • Figure out your down payment.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

  • Choose a type of mortgage.
  • Speak to at least five lenders and mortgage brokers.
  • Shop for the best interest rates and programs.

3. Determine what you want and need in a home.

  • Choose a location (downtown, urban, suburban, rural).
  • Choose a type (single family, townhouse, condo, loft).
  • Choose a price range.
  • Choose a size.
  • Choose an architectural style.

4. Research your target neighborhoods.

  • Look online for information on schools, crime rate, traffic and zoning.
  • Determine your work commute.
  • Scout local amenities, such as parks, shops and restaurants.

5. Work with a buyer's agent who knows the neighborhood.

  • Get referrals.
  • Consider working with an exclusive buyer's agent.
  • Interview at least three agents.
  • Look for experience and good chemistry.

6. Search for homes in the MLS and For Sale By Owner (FSBO).

  • Browse listings online, including FrontDoor.com.
  • Ask your agent to set up tours of homes that fit your criteria.
  • Check local newspapers.
  • Pick up flyers and attend open houses.

7. Research each home you want to buy.

  • Ask your agent for comps to estimate the property's fair market value.
  • Ask the seller's reason for selling.
  • Review all property disclosures.
  • Find out about liens, easements or other restrictions.

8. Make an offer and negotiate.

  • Determine the purchase price.
  • Include contingencies, such as financial, inspection or purchase.
  • Spell out any special requests and repairs you want included in the sale.
  • Determine an earnest money amount.
  • Define a move-in date.
  • Once both parties agree to the terms, sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

9. Finalize the deal.

  • Get the house appraised.
  • Get a professional home inspection.
  • Consider getting specific inspections for structural engineering, roof and termites.
  • Use the appraisal and inspection reports to re-negotiate if necessary.
  • Choose a home insurance company.
  • Complete the loan process with the lender.
  • Do a walk-through inspection prior to closing.
  • Set aside cash for the closing costs and down payment.

10. Close the purchase.

  • Review the settlement document at least 2 days before closing to see how funds will be collected and distributed.
  • Get a cashier's check for the amount you need to bring to closing, including the down payment and closing costs.

Next Up

The Skinny on the Short Sale

How to get a short sale when you're facing foreclosure on a house.

Short Sale Rules: What You Need to Know

A short sale occurs when a property is sold for less than what is owed on the mortgage with the lender's approval. Learn the advantages and disadvantages of this type of transaction for the seller and the buyer.

What Foreclosure Means and How to Stop It From Happening

Learn about the various steps in the foreclosure process and ways you can avoid losing your home.

Moving Day Tips: How to Pack for a Move

These 10 packing tips will help you move more efficiently and smoothly.

Did I Accept a Bad Offer on My Home?

Worried you accepted a bad offer for your home? Let real estate expert soothe your fears.

How to Deal With Your Lender When Facing Foreclosure

In the foreclosure world, "workout" has nothing to do with the elliptical trainer. It's about cutting a deal with your lender to stop the foreclosure process.

Sellers: What to Do When You Can't Find a Home Before Yours Sells

If you sold your house before you've found new digs, don't worry: You have options.

How to Quickly Sell Your Home When Threatened With Foreclosure

Get tips and advice on how to sell your home fast.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying a Home in Foreclosure

Purchasing a foreclosed home can mean getting a bargain, but there are potential pitfalls too.

For Sale By Owner (FSBO): How to Sell Your Home by Yourself

Are you considering selling your home without a real estate agent? Follow these tips to make the process as smooth as possible.

Go Shopping

Refresh your home with stylish products handpicked by HGTV editors.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.